Undergrad degrees and CFA

New to the forums, just wondering if your undergrad degree/major matters or puts you at an advantage when taking CFA level 1/2/3 because i am having a tough time deciding if i want to major in sciences, such as chemistry, environmental science or envrionmental chemistry OR get a B.A in Economics for the sake of it being beneficial to the CFA. Any suggestions or anything?

My accounting degree helped.

My mathematics degrees probably helped even more.

If you have an undergrad major in finance or accounting, then most of L1 should be a review for you.

That beng said, I wouldn’t change majors simply because it preps me for a test.

You don’t need to have an ‘advantage’. If the option is available, go for undergrad in computer engineering, electronics engineering, chemical engineering etc.

While finishing your undergrad, study for CFA levels. Give 600+ hours. And, you are good to go.

How can you be indifferent between a chemistry and a business degree? These are completely different disciplines. Are you saying you can do anything that is popular or demanded? Then you are in a for a disaster in your life, without ambitions and interests.

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sign up for business, economics or finance or accounting etc it will be a lot harder to learn CFA L1 with no background I personally don’t like accounting so just did business/finance and was fine … though hated FSA (FRA now)

I have/am - ‘engineering bachelor’s + 0 experience in finance + 8 years of engineering experience + unemployed’.

One fine day, i got interested in finding - By the way, why did i lose my job!

It led me to study articles on Macroeconimics. I ended up purchasing this wonderful book - Princples of Economics by Dirk Mateer & Lee Coppock.

One thing led to another and i ended signing up for the CFA exam. I purcahsed the Schewer material. But, i was transfixed by the sheer amount of unknown concepts.

But, some people suffer or enjoy masochism. And, i started from basics i.e. learning journal entries, general journal, general ledger etc. And, took the CFA exam 5 months later after putting around 600+ hours. I felt exam was easy. I was done 20-30 minutes earlier in the PM session.

But, while studying for CFA in the incipient stage, this is how i felt -


After taking the exam, i felt that CFA Level 1 is very much like FE (Fundamental of Engineering) exam. It is wide, huge and easy.


I started the pursuing the CFA charter with almost no background in finance, accounting, or economics (only what I was required to take for my marketing degree) adn I spent most of my career in communications. I did however have a lot of interest in the topics and I passed Level I on the first try. I have no doubt that I had to work a lot harder for it than those who came with related backgrounds, but it is definitely possible. Pursue what interests you today. If you really want to go after a CFA charter later, you’ll make it work.

I majored in financial management and business administration. Looking back if I could do it again i would have majored in accounting. When I was looking for positions it seemed like accounting background was in high demand and something that almost everyone I interviewed with valued (mostly interviewed for portfolio management and analyst type positions). I would also imagine that an accounting degree with some economics/investment related electives would position you nicely for both the real world and the CFA exams if you were looking to pursue a similar route.

Unless you specifically want to be a health care analyst Idk why you would be considerring a science major and at the same time the CFA. If I could go back even further I woulda tried to get into a Pharmacy program. Had no idea how much they make and not as much schooling required relative to other medical related occupations.

300 Hours had a report on this. According to their research, having a underground in a finance-related field ONLY was uncorrelated to performance but education AND work experience did. On a personal basis, I can say it’s complicated. I failed L1 because I thought it was going to be as easy as my undergrad and underestimated the exam. After I was acquainted with the degree of difficulty, it helped. Having a background in cash-flow calculation, corporate finance, etc. helped.

Stepping back a bit, I think you need to ask yourself what you want to do in life first. If you want to go further in sciences, especially in chemistry, leave this forum and don’t return – it’s a waste of your time. If you do, econ/accounting/finance is all good.

A lot of people fail L1 because they think it’s just like any other final they took in undergrad. Just cram for a few days and you’re golden!

A lot of people fail L2 because they assume that L2 is about as difficult as L1. Just study as much for L2 as you did for L1 and you’re golden!

A lot of people fail L3 because they assume that L3 is easier than L2 (because it has less formulas), so they back off and don’t study as hard. Just study less for L3 than you did for L2 and your’e golden!

Three nice articles to read -

  1. March of the Machines - Page 11 - June 25th, 2016 - The Economist

  2. Million Dollar Babies - Page 61 - April 2nd, 2016 - The Economist

  3. ‘The Future of Employment - How susceptible are jobs to computerization’ by Frey & Osborne

According to the 3rd article -

  1. Accountant role has 94% probability of being computerized in future.

  2. Financial Analyst has 23% probability of being computerized in future.​

  3. Economist role has 43% probability of being computerized in future.

  4. Chemical Engineer has 1.7% probability of being computerized in future.

  5. Electronics Engineer has 2.5% probability of being computerized in future.

  6. Mathematician has 4.7% probability of being computerized in future.

  7. Chemist has 10% probability of being computerized in future.

  8. Environmental Scientist has 3.3% probability of being computerized in future.

I think these points are debatable.


I am just not sure if i want to go into a medical profession, hence the science degree, or into finance, hence the econ degree. I know these are two vastly different fields but i was just wondering because i’ve read that some CFAs don’t have a business/econ related undergrad degree.

You can’t get into finance or any type of decent job with just an Econ bachelor degree (unless Ivy League). I tried the same route as you (Econ/bio minor) and the outcome was horrible after graduating. Either pick medicine or pick finance/accounting and destroy the competition.

Wish i could do Finance, the school i’m at right now doesn’t offer it. Not sure if i want to transfer

How about a Bachelors of management with a Finance concentration?

Whatever you end up studying make sure you kill it. You can pretty much study anything in undergrad and if your gpa is good enough, crush the gmat, you can get into a top 20 MBA program.

At the end of the day even if you end up with a bachelor’s in finance, if its not from a target school or you don’t have a connection you’re gonna be starting at the bottom and you’re gonna have to put in some time working some garbage job building your resume. That would be the time to consider the CFA.

Study in a subject that would give you a different perspective than finance. I would go with a mathematics/cs double major. All the accounting and finance you need in in the CFA curriculum, however analytical ability and programming is not. I bet that in 8 years time these two skills will become much more relevant in finance than now.

I think if you want to go into quantitative finance you should be in something like math, stats, physics, computer sciences, or some othe quant type field.

If you want to be in banking, asset management, consulting, croporate finance or something less quant heavy, you should be taking a business degree - either accounting or finance.

My experience is the the hiring manaers for the latter like to see business degrees, and also recruit from the on campus business programs. These positions less likely rely on deep quantitative understanding (except computer skills will be helpful everywhere).

You will be fine with the CFA exams with any of the above degrees as long as you work hard. I know people that passed them with English literature degrees, pyschology degrees, etc - they just work hard.